After four games with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Trail Blazers rookies Cliff Alexander and Luis Montero have returned to Rip City rejuvenated following a positive experience in the NBA D-League.
Starters in all four of the Warriors' contests, Alexander averaged 15 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 52.1% from the field and Montero recorded averages of 16.3 points, six rebounds and 3.8 assists over the four-game span, shooting 38.5% from beyond the arc. Stats aside, the experience of game action against players hungry to earn a spot on an NBA roster was beneficial for the pair of youngsters.
"It felt good to get some playing time, play against good players," Montero said after Trail Blazers practice on Tuesday. "They compete every time, they try hard every time -- they’re trying to be [in the NBA]."
Often arriving several hours before tip-off for every home and road NBA game to get workouts in, the rookies were happy to gauge their improvement over the course of the season during their time in the NBADL.
"I had a great experience," Alexander said. "Me and Luis went down there, got the chance to start all four games. Had a great experience. It felt good to play the game of basketball again.
"It paid off a lot; playing one-on-one, two-on-two before every game."
Though the Trail Blazers were busy with their own four-game road trip during Alexander and Montero's stint with Santa Cruz, head coach Terry Stotts was pleased with what he was able to see from the pair on film.
"They both had a good tenure down there," said Stotts. "I thought it was a positive experience for both of them: they learned, they got some quality minutes, had some good things and things they can improve on.
"More than anything, I thought it was really good just to get them a lot of game minutes."